Tag Archives: rotc

SSQL’S ROTC Argument

We appreciate and acknowledge the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), but despite this historic change, transgender, intersex, and disabled people are still systematically excluded from the military.   We oppose the return of ROTC to campus, because it constitutes a violation of Stanford’s non-discrimination clause, which states “Stanford University admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the University.”  This is an issue of access, of civil rights.  Stand with us, and stand with your marginalized peers against explicit discrimination.  The rights of a minority should not be subject to the prejudices of a majority.

Frequently raised concerns:

1.      Your argument is simply a foil for anti-militarism. Those of us involved in the SSQL effort against the introduction of a discriminatory ROTC program span the political spectrum in our support for the military.  Political opinion about the military, furthermore, is irrelevant to an argument about civil rights.

2.      Transgender individuals are unfit for military service and therefore for the ROTC program.  Often this concern is based on the unfounded view that transgender identity inherently results in poor mental health.  According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, high rates of suicide and mental health conditions in the transgender community is a result of institutionalized stigma, and lack of community support, not an innate disorder.  Yes, “Gender Identity Disorder” is still included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, but the American Psychological Association and several LGBT organizations are staunchly against this unfortunate pathologizing of transgender identities.

3.      Intersex individuals are unfit for military service.  Intersexuality, on the other hand, is a physical condition diagnosed at birth based on ambiguous genitalia and/or hormonal status.  Neither of these factors have an intrinsic effect on the ability of an individual to serve in the military.   Indeed, the exclusion of intersexuals is really based on fundamental prejudice and phobia.

4.      Disabled individuals are unfit for military service.  While it is true that many tasks in the military require a certain degree of physical fitness, like other ability-differentiated activities on campus, it is the responsibility of the organizers to provide safe alternatives (such as training for civilian positions).

5.      The military will never be able to accommodate all these different identities.  This is a fairly pessimistic view isn’t it?  We were at the same point a few decades ago with LGB servicemembers but we pushed through (though not without concerted effort).  The military, as one of our nation’s largest employers, can and should embody the non-discrimination.

6.      Stanford-educated military leaders will make the military inclusive to transgender, intersex, and disabled individuals.  This idea offers a fairly slow and problematic narrative of progress.  Why not speak out against oppression now, in coalition with our marginalized peers, instead of waiting for an uncertain trickle-down effect?  Transgender, intersex, and disabled people have been left out of our civil rights clauses long enough, and it is time we speak up for justice.

7.      You are enacting discrimination against ROTC cadets by not allowing the program on campus.  We are ready to work with the military community in reducing the stigma around veteran or cadet status, but we do not believe the de facto (or social) discrimination against military cadets (who choose their military status) is comparable to the de jure (codified) discrimination against transgender, intersex, and disabled individuals.  Fighting de facto discrimination requires social transformation but de jure discrimination requires a simple (though often difficult) change in law.  Working for military students’ community and opposing ROTC on the basis of discrimination are not mutually exclusive.  We propose a military student VSO as an alternative for those who choose to enlist.

At Stanford, Alok Vaid-Menon, a sophomore and president of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, said his group wanted to keep R.O.T.C. off the campus, though still allow students to participate in programs at nearby campuses, until the military accepted transgender students. He said that he had tried to raise support for this view from students at other universities but that the response so far had been “bleak.”

Mr. Vaid-Menon said there were about 10 transgender students at Stanford, which he said was about the same number of those involved in R.O.T.C.

from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/education/28rotc.html, by Katharine Q. Seelye of the New York Times.

ROTC Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 21st, 2011
Alok Vaid-Menon—979-209-4005 (cell) or alok@nationalmarriageboycott.com


Stanford Students Continue To Fight Return of ROTC Due to Transgender Discrimination

Even with Repeal of” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, Transgender Individuals are still barred from Military Service


Palo Alto, CA.– Several student organizations have launched a new campaign against the return of ROTC to college campuses in light of the repeal of DADT due to their policy of discrimination towards transgender service members. The National Marriage Boycott, the largest national youth-led LGBT rights organization, has called for youth activists on college campuses that include gender identity in their non-discrimination clause to oppose the introduction or return of ROTC to their institutions. On the campus of Stanford University “Students for Queer Liberation”, an LGBTQ rights group, is currently lobbying Stanford administration and organizing against the return of ROTC to campus.

“Now, more than ever, is the time for college students across the country to take a stand and organize against transgender discrimination, an issue that has been historically ignored by the mainstream gay rights agenda”  said Alok Vaid-Menon, President of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation. “A re-introduction of ROTC on college campuses (including Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia) that include ‘gender identity’ in their non-discrimination clause is a fundamental violation of policy and an endorsement of discrimination.”

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission issued the recommendation of a ban on transgender service member as part of a draft report on diversity in the services. The final report is due to lawmakers this spring and commission members are meeting this week in Virginia to debate final changes.

This treatment of transsexual service members was recently highlighted in the Washington Post article titled “Transgender Vets Want Military Access For Own” telling the story of First Class Autumn Sandeen and her trials as a trans-women veteran. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2011/01/11/AR2011011101480.html

The National Marriage Boycott is a youth-led grassroots movement determined to create a world where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can live with dignity and security. NMB mobilizes youth activists at college campuses across the country to become involved in the struggle for LGBTQ equality. You can learn more about NMB at www.nationalmarriageboycott.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NMB


An open letter to administrators, activists, legislators, and other stakeholders in the issue of transgender discrimination and ROTC:

We are writing on behalf of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL) and the Harvard Transgender Task Force (TTF) to express our concern with the conflation of the debates on Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). No doubt, the repeal of DADT was a historic moment for a great number of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members who have been and continue to be part of the military. We are alarmed, however, that the repeal of this legislation has been used to justify a possible re-introduction of ROTC at Harvard University and we fear that other universities, including Stanford, might use a similar logic, without considering the ongoing issue of de jure discrimination against transgender individuals.

In the debate over ROTC, both sides seem to have forgotten about transgender students, who will still face explicitly discriminatory policies in the military, and by extension, in ROTC.  Transgender status or a Gender Identity Disorder (GID) diagnosis alone can disqualify a person from open military service.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice does not allow transgender individuals to serve openly, even with the DADT repeal in place. The military’s Anti-Harassment Plan also fails to protect individuals against harassment targeted toward a person’s gender identity. Various military bureaucratic entities including DD-214 forms in the military, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, do not contain provisions to alter gender (from male to female or vice versa).  Furthermore, numerous Veterans Affairs medical services including prostate exams, pap smears, and mammograms are routinely denied to transgender veterans.

Currently the ROTC program is not an affirming, or even open, option for transgender students. A re-introduction of ROTC, therefore, constitutes a violation of both Stanford and Harvard’s non-discrimination clauses and the statutes of any other universities that protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. We are writing to ask for a statement of your support for campuses that decide against reintroducing ROTC programs on the basis of transgender exclusion. We realize this is not an easy decision to make, but we feel partnering against such open injustices is essential to upholding our mutual investment in equal opportunity.

Stanford Students for Queer Liberation

Harvard Transgender Task Force